Lansing, MI - In honor of Black History Month, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is profiling three companies that participate in the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program.
“These companies are owned and managed by hardworking entrepreneurs who are helping rebuild and move Michigan,” said Acting State Transportation Director Brad Wieferich. “The MDOT DBE Program has helped these businesses grow, hire new employees, and compete for MDOT projects, which helps lower contract costs.”
Rhonda Rowe is owner and chief executive officer (CEO) of Rowe Trucking, LLC in Detroit.
- In 2007, Rowe took over the management of the company, founded by her father in 1967. The company owns a fleet of trucks that haul various materials to and from construction projects, including transportation construction projects on I-75, M-3 (Gratiot Avenue) in Roseville, and M-1 Rail.
- “Becoming DBE certified has helped us get our foot in the door on many MDOT projects,” Rowe said. “Because of the service we provide, it has allowed us to get more work on other projects and grow our company.”
- Both Rowe’s father and daughter are involved at some level with the company, a true family business. “At 89, my father still loves to be around to help with the trucks and provides maintenance advice to staff,” Rowe said.
Lester Lewis II is the owner of New Generation Group, LLC in Detroit.
- Started 2019, Lewis’s company provides pre- and post- construction audio/visual surveys, and cameras for underground pipe inspections. With more than 10 years in the construction industry, he uses his vast experience to manage the day-to-day operations and understand his customer’s needs.
- “Having a good relationship with prime contractors and MDOT is a great start to put forth a 100 percent effort in getting the job done right the first time,” Lewis said. “My reputation and quality of work give me an edge over the competition.”
Jon Kolbasa is the founder and owner of Value Engineering in Lansing.
- Started in his home in 2013, Kolbasa’s company offers engineering consultant services to MDOT, civil engineering firms, and private developers. After a few years, Kolbasa was able to open offices in downtown Lansing and Detroit where the firm has positioned itself to also work with local agencies and the federal government.
- Most of Value Engineering’s work comes from MDOT projects and its 10 employees, many of them former MDOT staffers, help with roadway design, maintenance of traffic, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) curb ramp design, drainage design, pavement markings, permanent signing, and construction engineering. The early phase of the I-94 Modernization project in Detroit made it possible for the firm to hire its first full-time designer. The company also started a new endeavor with MDOT’s Grand Region maintenance team. It has been a very positive experience that allowed the company to expand into the diverse field of maintenance.
- “The DBE program has opened many opportunities for Value Engineering by providing reimbursements and help with software, additional training, and access to industry conferences,” Kolbasa said. “We also took advantage of MDOT’s Mentor-Protégé Program that gave us multiple partnering opportunities. All of this has allowed us to expand our construction engineering and inspection team.”
MDOT's Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program is a federally required program designed to ensure that firms owned and controlled by minorities, women, and other socially and economically disadvantaged persons, have the opportunity to grow and become self-sufficient through participation in federally funded MDOT contracts. Each year, DBE companies must submit a report to MDOT to maintain their certification. Contact Lisa S. Thompson, MDOT Office of Business Development administrator, at 517-335-1708 or